In Colossians 1, there is an amazing list of fifteen facets of the glory of Christ. It’s as if Paul is holding a diamond up and allowing the light to illuminate all the finely-cut sides in turn.
He was doing this for a reason: in Colossae there was a serious situation brewing, where the believers were downgrading the importance of Christ and substituting (or adding) different ideas. We can see some of them clearly enough, such as a legalistic emphasis on Old Testament law (Sabbath etc), and the worship of angels or other intermediaries. There were people in Colossians saying that “the worship of angels” (Col 2:18) was part of the way to God. No, Paul says, these angels that some think are so great were created by Christ and for Christ. Don’t worship them. Worship the one who made them.
Paul was concerned that in the pluralistic atmosphere of Colossae, Christians could be captivated by high-sounding heresies. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). With these great truths about Christ, Paul is protecting us from philosophies and traditions that do not cherish the supremacy of Christ. When you embrace truths like this, you are not easily swept away by man-centred trends or traditions.
Paul wants to make crystal clear that when Christians, who feel so small and vulnerable, hear about hostile “thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities,” they know beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ has all authority over them, and they cannot do anything apart from his sovereign permission (Job 1; Luke 22:31).
And therefore, finally, Paul tells us these things because he wants us to see and feel that our salvation in Christ is invincible. When Christ died for sin and rose again, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities” (Col 2: 15). Have you put your trust in him? If so, here is what he says about you in Col 3:3,4: “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
You are secure forever in Christ.
So here’s the picture:
Verse 14: In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Verse 15a: He is the image of the invisible God.
Verse 15b: He is the firstborn of all creation—that is, the specially honoured, first and only Son over all creation.
Verse 16a: By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.
Verse 16b: All things were created through him.
Verse 16c: All things were created for him.
Verse 17a: He is before all things.
Verse 17b: In him all things hold together.
Verse 18a: He is the head of the body, the church.
Verse 18b: He is the beginning.
Verse 18c: He is the firstborn from the dead.
Verse 18d: In everything he is preeminent.
Verse 19: In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
Verse 20a: He reconciles all things to himself, whether on earth or in heaven.
Verse 20b: He makes peace by the blood of his cross.
Linger on each one. If you ever find your heart wavering then ask God to give you a new sense of wonder and love that corresponds to the measure of this greatness.
If any person or any power or any wisdom or any love awakens any admiration or any amazement or any joy, let it be the greatest Person and the greatest power and the greatest wisdom and the greatest love that exists—Jesus Christ.